How to Save Money While Traveling in Europe

You have come to the right place if you want to know how to save money while traveling in Europe. Depending on your travel style, having a strategy is always a good idea for saving extra Euros. Yes, I know how challenging keeping a tight budget and counting every penny can be. I’m not a wasteful person, in fact quite the opposite. I have learned through my experience how to travel on a budget, find great (and cheap) places to hang out, save extra money and not be accused of being “penny-wise and pound-foolish”. You may notice that some tips below can also be applied to traveling in other parts of the globe. Indeed, some of them are quite interchangeable. Learn from my experience to make your travels last longer and more frequently.

 

exploring Venice on the cheap

 

How to Save Money While Traveling in Europe

 

Before You Go

When traveling overseas, airfare will probably be the most significant part of your travel expenses. Collecting travel reward points and planning your trip well in advance can be a feasible way of lowering the final cost. Even if you not into buying air tickets with points, planning in advance allows you to book if not the cheapest flight but the one with the appropriate price. When I travel within EU I usually fly with the budget airlines like EasyJet, Aer Lingus or Eurowings and always check for available overnight trains.

 

Large cities like Paris, Copenhagen, and London will always be a lot more expensive to visit than less popular destinations. Rural Spain, Loire Valley or the Romantic Road between Würzburg and Füssen in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg can be surprisingly inexpensive. Include these hidden gems in your travel itinerary to get a viable answer on how to save money while traveling in Europe.

 

exploring Rome on the cheap

 

It has been said a thousand times but staying flexible with your travel and flight dates is a great way to get good deals. While summer isn’t the best time for visiting France, Germany or Italy due to the holiday season, shoulder season usually allows avoiding fully booked hotels and long lines. Remember that Europe is one big family with a lot of countries that are still not in the EU. Eastern Europe may offer some new and exciting experiences, not to mention the low prices.

 

It may sound obvious but taking your time to plan everything through often saves you a lot of money. Yes, you can’t predict weather and train delays but you do can set a budget and stick to it. The fact that we’re on a tight budget doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy traveling the world. Set a certain amount in local cash you are willing to spend for knick-knacks. It is rather difficult to constantly keep a finger on the pulse of daily spending. I prefer withdrawing larger sums of money from an ATM at a time to keep everything under control. Check if your bank has partners to avoid skyrocketing transaction fees.

 

Accommodation in Europe

Hotels can be extremely expensive. Especially in the high season. When I travel alone tend to stay in hostels or rent an apartment with AirBnB. Check the hostel’s cancellation policy to avoid ridiculous situations of being charged for the first night if you don’t show up. Just be sure to call ahead of time to warn hostel and cancel your reservation without a penalty. I can’t recommend staying in hostels enough because it is always a fun experience.

 

The shabbier your accommodation is, the less time you will spend in it and spend more exploring the city. Save money on comfort in favor of convenient location. This is a great way to step out of your comfort zone as well!

 

Always check for alternative accommodation options. Couchsurfing, Warmshowers, AirBnb, friends. You never know which site may show you the best price. The more you seek, the more options you find.

 

exploring Paris on the cheap

 

If you’re running out of money consider sleeping in airport or train station. Need an excuse? – Early flight or train. It usually works well. I slept in airports several times and found it to be a decent option in a pinch.

 

When heading South, take an advantage of staying in smaller family-run businesses. These are less popular options and range from small family-run hotels to family-owned restaurants and tour services. If you’re wondering how to save money while traveling in Europe, stick to family-run businesses to get a highly personalized service and excellent value for money.

 

Covering long distance between the cities in a train can be best accomplished at night. Not only you can save on accommodation and time but bring your own food to keep costs low. Most European overnight trains are included in the Eurail passes.

 

camping in Europe

 

With so many different types of camping in Europe, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Ranging from classic tent camping to RV/van/car camping, it is one of the least expensive ways to see Europe. While large campsites provide hot-water showers and laundry facilities for an additional cost, some others may even have a grocery store nearby. Staying at campsites is always about flexibility – you choose where to go or sleep.

 

When it comes to choosing a location I usually have to compromise on transport costs and accessing the attractions that I want to visit. It isn’t that easy. Depending on the city and the transport costs, I combine staying central and outside of the city. Since I love exploring new cities on foot, I can afford myself staying central by cutting back on transportation costs.

 

Traveling Across Europe

Exploring Europe on two wheels is something I can’t recommend enough. With so many cycle routes, bike shops, campsites and cozy little towns, Europe is a great place to start your own Tour de France. If you’re not into exploring rural Europe, why not taking advantage of renting a bike that allows you to get around the city quickly. You can expect to pay around 20-25 EUR per day, but if you rent a bike for a week, prices will be much lower.

 

Explore the city on foot. It is free and keeps you fit. Some less known cities in Europe are really small so you can easily create a perfect travel itinerary that won’t require using public transport.

 

saving money on transportation

 

Read More: How to Deal With Travel Envy

 

When staying for multiple days in a particular city it may be wise to invest in a multi-day pass. Not only you save tons of money compared to single passes but you can also skip using cabs and taxis that are extremely expensive. If you visit London, use an Oyster card as it offers good value for money. Travel passes offer great perks and allow to drastically save money while traveling in Europe.

 

Find your perfect winter getaway in Europe. Flying in winter is always cheaper. Take an advantage of winter flight sales to take great photos for your Instagram.

 

Moving from one European city to another means you have plenty of options to do it on a budget. As a frugal traveler, I always compare these options for the lowest price. While trains and low-cost airlines are great, in the summer they are never cheap. Of course, you can narrow down the list of the countries to visit (or even stick to only one country). But if this strategy isn’t part of your plan, remember that there are lots of bus companies (such as Flixbus or Megabus) that will get you almost everywhere in Europe on the cheap.

 

exploring Rome on the cheap

 

If you fly with low-cost airlines, make sure their hub is conveniently located so you wouldn’t have to pay extra money for getting to the city centre. Remember that trains and subway have the advantage of getting you to the downtown rather than the outskirts and are usually less expensive if purchased beforehand.

 

Food in Europe

The chance of getting cheap food in Europe depends greatly on the country you visit. While hitting restaurants in France, Germany or Italy on a regular basis tend to drain your wallet pretty quickly, Eastern Europe will usually offer more food options for staying longer on the road.

 

How to Travel to Europe On a Family Budget

 

Eating out can be very expensive in Paris. Instead, you can you can visit local markets that offer great value for money. I saved a lot of Euros buying fruits, cheese, and olives at Marché Barbès in the 18th arrondissement. However, not all farmer’s markets are cheap. Ask staff at the reception of your hostel where to find the best deal.

 

fresh fruit in Europe

 

When traveling on a tight budget, cooking your own food is a great way to save extra money (this is the next thing I usually do after hitting supermarkets). Aldi, Lidl, and Penny are your friends when it comes to saving money while traveling in Europe. There are plenty of hypermarkets and local grocery stores that sell food to snack on-the-go. Most of them also offer a wide array of ready meals, so you don’t have to waste time cooking it. Most European countries have an elaborate picnic traditions, so why not take advantage of it?

Don’t miss your free breakfast. Many hotels and hostels have free breakfast – don’t skip it. Hot items like eggs, bacon, waffles, and pancakes will keep you feel full until lunch. Even fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, and oatmeal are great when served free of cost.

 

When I’m planning my next trip I always do a little research on where to find affordable food. I hate finding that I’m hungry in the middle of a crowded square with no idea on where to eat on the cheap. Don’t wait until you are hungry. Carrying some food with you during the day is another way to overcome hunger.

 

12 Tips for Saving Money On the Road

 

Local food is often the best way to experience the foreign culture. Tom yum in Thailand, fish, and chips in England or Lebkuchen gingerbread in Germany, you definitely have heard these words before. While there are plenty of options to choose from, major tourist areas rarely offer good value for money. Get off the beaten track, find the places where the locals eat (and drink too!) and the price significantly drops.

 

food in Europe

 

Save money on buying water. When going to Western Europe you can expect tap water to be safe for drinking. Austria, France, and Switzerland have a decent water quality. At the same time Italy, Germany and Belgium have public taps where you can refill your bottle for free. You can ask for tap water in restaurants. If you didn’t specifically ask for it, waiters will always bring you an expensive bottle of water.

 

Sightseeing Activities in Europe

With so many museums in Europe, you will be spoilt for choice. If you want to visit a bunch of museums, then obtaining a museum pass can be your best bet. Yes, it is expensive but paying admission every time you visit can add up even quicker. Plan out your itinerary well to avoid overpaying. Most museums in Europe (like Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin) offer free admission on particular days. Go online to check the dates. Don’t forget your ISIC card if you’re a student to get some extra discounts.

 

saving money on sightseeing

 

Most cities in Europe offer free walking tours. These are great if you want to learn something new about culture and architecture of the city without breaking the bank. Most of the guided tours can be attended for free. But tipping some small amount of money shows you actually enjoyed the tour.

 

When I go out to explore foreign cultures and cities I love staying online to share my experience on social networks. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are omnipresent these days so I bet you won’t want to skip this part of your life while traveling. We all know WiFi rocks. It is free, often fast and reliable. You can use free WiFi in cafés and restaurants or stick to WiFi dongles or pre-paid data card if you know you gonna face slow or unstable connection. Whatever your choice is, make sure to do a quick research on where to find free hotspots and best data plans when traveling in Europe. If you want to get fast WiFi in your hotel, check sites like Hotel Wifi Test, a resource that ranks hotels by the fastest WiFi.

 

Why Do We Travel

 

I don’t often do so, but visiting tourist information center can be useful when you have no plans at all. You will get a wide array of travel options, free information, and advice. If you’re scratching your head about how to save money while traveling in Europe, tourist information centers are just here to help.

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How to Save Money While Traveling in Europe

 

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61 Comments

  • You have some great money saving ideas here. Thanks for a great read.

    2018-01-11 at 9:48 pm
  • Collins Nwokolo

    Reply

    Nice one! I’m planning on a trip this May, so this post was very useful to me.

    2018-01-12 at 6:42 am
  • Awesome! money saving ideas here. Thanks for sharing it.

    2018-01-12 at 11:28 am
  • Great tips, saving money while travel can help you see more at same price. I used free walking tours while I was in Krakow and I loved it.

    2018-01-12 at 4:55 pm
  • Great advice! I’ve always dreamed of visiting Europe but the cost usually deters me!

    2018-01-14 at 10:46 pm
  • Some great money saving tips here. I will do a huge Europe trip in the summer so this article as certainly given me food for thought. I’m sure by following these tips i will save a ton. Thanks

    2018-01-15 at 6:40 am
  • thanks for the tips.. i’ve been planning a trip to europe for what seems like forever.. i’ll definitely be looking into campsites more.

    2018-01-15 at 12:14 pm
  • Good money saving tips. I know that European travel during the off- season can make a big difference. The cooler temps might not be as pleasant, but it will cut the costs. I noticed that, starting in April each year is approx. when the prices jump higher. A late March vacation can therefore result in low prices and slightly more tolerable temps.

    2018-01-15 at 3:34 pm
  • I love Europe and can’t wait to go back. You gave some great ideas on how to save money

    2018-01-15 at 3:39 pm
  • We were in Paris (family of 4) and eating out was EXTREMELY expensive. It was one of our highest expenses! So, you’re correct that it is pricey. I love your tip about sleeping at the airport when running out of money. However, we have a timeshare and can book anywhere in the world which helps a lot! Great tips!

    2018-01-15 at 3:40 pm
  • These are great trips. I learned new ones and realized I have been doing others. The one about planning your food is a must! This does not mean you can’t buy that amazing pastry you saw on a storefront, but with lunches and dinners is critical. I tend to have on my phone and in a paper the names and addresses of places that I have looked over in advance, to avoid surprises regarding the type of food and price. There’s nothing worse than getting hungry, finding the closest place to eat and be extremely disappointed.

    2018-01-15 at 4:38 pm
  • I’d love to travel to Europe. I’m definitely saving this guide!

    2018-01-15 at 6:46 pm
  • Great tips. I’m an American who has lived in Europe. My biggest penny pinching strategy was to walk wherever I could. It’s a great way to really see a place and understand how neighborhoods knit together.

    2018-01-16 at 4:28 pm
  • These are really good tips! I haven’t traveled to Europe just yet so I’m sure these will be really useful in making it an affordable option.

    2018-01-17 at 2:12 am
  • Thank you so much for the great tips. I’ll definitely come by again when it gets closer to planning the Europe trip. I’m so glad I got a chance to read you blog.

    2018-01-17 at 7:32 am
  • It can be so expensive in London – great tips for anyone wanting to travel round Europe! x

    2018-01-17 at 8:25 am
  • Backpacking across Europe has been a dream for me. I have always wanted to explore the countryside but the budget always stops me. This is a great post and will travelers like me a lot.

    2018-01-17 at 11:56 am
  • This probably helps a lot when in Europe! Thanks

    2018-01-17 at 12:01 pm
  • Great tips on how to save money in EUROpe while travelling! I agree with all of your tips! Especially eating out can ruin your wallet but then, the local food markets are a perfect option for getting to know the culture and…. save a lot of money! Same goes for travelling in low season! Many more accomodation options and lower prices for hotel rooms and all other options!

    2018-01-17 at 1:19 pm
  • Handy tips on how to save money while traveling in Europe. Interesting post I enjoyed thoroughly. I have traveled lot in Europe but it will be fun to try some money saving tips.

    2018-01-17 at 1:35 pm
  • awesome nice sir keep it up
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    2018-01-17 at 8:37 pm
  • Neil Alvin Nicerio

    Reply

    Great tips! I will surely keep these in mind when I visit Europe. I have to save a lot of money first though. Anyway thank you for sharing this great article.

    2018-01-18 at 1:47 am
  • Loved this! Can’t wait to travel Europe this was super helpful Thanks!

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    2018-01-18 at 6:33 am
  • Joanna

    Reply

    You have some great money saving advice in this post. Europe indeed can be very expensive if you don’t pay attention. Sure, everyone dreams of visiting Paris or London but they are so expensive, a day in each capital could end up costing as much as a week in an Eastern Europe city.

    2018-01-18 at 3:07 pm
  • Great tips. The last time I went to Europe was on a bus tour, so a lot of the stuff were included. I would love use the EuroRail pass the next time I go. Good tip on cooking your own food too.

    2018-01-19 at 9:11 pm
  • This is such a nice and helpful post.I live in Croatia and I agree with everything you wrote. You get do so much more in Eastern Europe because of the price difference. Thank you for sharing.

    2018-01-19 at 9:21 pm
  • Wow! These are wonderful tips! I loved your photos, too! 🙂 Thank you for reminding us to plan ahead and go to museums on their free days, eating where the locals eat (the food tends to taste better in these places), and going to some destinations that are not as popular, but also beautiful. Great post! Thank you!

    2018-01-20 at 1:10 am
  • Wow! I love Europe. Will definitely keep your advice in mind. Thanks 🙂

    2018-01-20 at 10:35 pm
  • Airbnb is brilliant and it is a good idea to just go to grocery stores to save money

    2018-01-22 at 6:37 pm
  • This is a wonderful article! We are currently planning long-term travel and this is very helpful. Thank you for you insights!

    2018-01-22 at 8:05 pm
  • The traveller

    Reply

    Some very useful tips must say. Keep up the good work.

    2018-01-24 at 8:17 am
  • We often used to sneak on to the trains…. gotta risk it for the biscuit

    2018-01-24 at 8:55 am
  • I’ve just written about wanting to go to Barcelona soon, so this will be very helpful. Thank you! 🙂

    2018-01-24 at 7:40 pm
  • These are such great ideas. Totally agree with Oyster cards and food markets! I did the same. Love Couchsurfing too for cheap places to stay and meet locals.
    xoxo
    Annie

    2018-02-12 at 7:57 pm
  • These are great tips. Super helpful

    2018-02-13 at 6:58 am
  • Great recomentations should have known this years ago!

    2018-02-13 at 5:34 pm
  • Very thorough article with great advice. Kudos.

    2018-02-14 at 7:07 am
  • Great tips! Lots of great information! I’ll definitely be sharing!

    2018-02-17 at 2:43 pm
  • This blog is wonderful…so detailed!

    2018-02-17 at 5:46 pm
  • Starry Eyed

    Reply

    Lots of very useful information, something that helps a lot to think about for my next trip!

    2018-02-17 at 8:26 pm
  • I love this post! Europe is totally expensive, for sure, but I feel like a lot of people tend to think that it’s FAR more expensive because they make it out to be that way, like staying at hotels, taking taxis everywhere, and going out to eat for every meal. I love all of your examples, proving that it isn’t that expensive!

    2018-02-17 at 9:38 pm
  • Good recommendations list. I travel Europe a lot and agree on the things you tell.

    2018-02-18 at 12:59 am
  • Some fabulous tips there for saving cash in Europe. I moved to the Middle East 3 years ago so most of my travel is now in Asia or Africa which s super cheap. Should I decide to do the rounds in Europe, I will refere back to this article!

    2018-02-18 at 4:36 am
  • Awesome tips! Free walking tours are great and so is staying outside the biggest cities. Also, if you stay in places like Paris – choose accommodation couple miles from the downtown. Thank you for sharing the tips!

    2018-02-18 at 7:31 am
  • Great post! Pinned for future use 🙂

    2018-02-18 at 1:30 pm
  • I love all your tips, particularly the ones about food. My wife and I are foodies, and we absolutely love trying local fare rather than looking for “American comfort food”. Even when we stay at upscale places occasionally, I still venture out early in the morning to get bread, cheese and fruit for breakfast. Great way to get to know the country.

    2018-02-18 at 2:08 pm
  • This is a great list, travelling can wind up so expensive and things like this can REALLY help. Shopping at supermarkets especially, a sandwich and a coke from a cafe in central Paris was about 9 euros, – roll, cheese, ham, coke and a bottle of water 5 euros. no contest!

    2018-02-18 at 10:27 pm
  • One day I need to go to Europe, it looks so beautiful and the food looks delicious.

    2018-02-19 at 4:02 pm
  • We travel with our tiny dog so some of these are not an option for us (like the cheap airlines – they don’t allow in cabin pets!) but like you we totally do the cook your own food thing… THAT is a huge game changer. if we do eat out it’s lunch. Never breakfast and dinner. Those are always overpriced. I have slept in an airport to save a hotel night. Even with the tiny puppers along. It’s all in how you present yourself for that one. But as I get older — I just don’t fancy it anymore.

    2018-02-19 at 7:05 pm
  • Some great tips in here for travelling on a budget, we especially enjoyed some popular European cities in the off season as there were fewer tourists and more opportunities to meet locals

    2018-02-20 at 11:22 pm
  • Great piece if advises – I am Airbnb host myself and love this community not only for saving and making some pocket money but also as option to meet cool people!

    2018-02-21 at 12:44 pm
  • While we travel mostly using miles and points, we love all the money saving tips! Would love to Road Trip through Europe one day.

    2018-02-27 at 12:29 am

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